Thursday, 31 January 2013
Does email marketing even have a future? With every new social media phenomenon opening up new marketing channels, the doubters say no, email marketing is on its way out.
Only it isn’t. If anything, it’s on the rise! Despite all the popular new kids on the marketing block, email continues to more than hold its own.
Why? Because it works, that’s why. It’s more cost-effective, that’s another why. And there is a number of other whys that point to a positive future for email marketing.
Customers Prefer Email Marketing
Perhaps the strongest case for email marketing, however, is that it is far and away the consumer’s preferred method for receiving marketing messages. According to the 2012 Channel Preference Survey, 77% of online consumers would rather get permission-based marketing messages via email over any other marketing channel. How did they feel about Facebook? Only 4% of respondents would prefer to receive marketing messages there. Twitter? 1%.
So while people are happy to like and follow brands through the social media networks, right now that’s not how or where they want to be marketed to.
Email Is BIG!!!
As big as Facebook and Twitter are getting, email is still bigger. A lot bigger. Worldwide, there are three times as many email accounts as all of the Facebook and Twitter accounts combined.
It’s also predicted that email accounts will continue to grow in the coming years, as will email traffic. So, more people on email, sending more emails – it doesn’t exactly sound like a death knell for email marketing, does it?
Email Marketing Is Getting BIGGER!!!
The increase of social media and mobile usage has seen email marketing grow at a phenomenal rate in recent years. The years to come will see even bigger growth as more businesses take up online marketing.
The use of email marketing is growing because it works. It can be far more cost-effective than other marketing channels, and deliver a very impressive, measurable return on investment that social media is still unable to accurately demonstrate. That’s why 63% of marketers plan on increasing their spending on email marketing in the coming year.
Facing The Future
Of course, this isn’t to say that email marketing is a guaranteed success and you can just reap the rewards of its growth without changing the way you use it. Because to get the best from email marketing in the future – the very near future – you will need to ensure you’re moving with the times:
Optimise Your Email Campaigns For Mobile Users
More and more people are reading emails on their smartphones and other mobile devices. That means it’s vitally important that your emails can be easily opened on these platforms, and that they still look good too. Luckily, there is already a move in email marketing software towards innovative solutions for mobile optimisation.
Integrate Your Email Marketing With Social Media Marketing
You no longer have to depend on just your website and email marketing to get your news out, so why would you? Social media can extend the reach of your messages, quickly and easily. Utilize social media marketing by adding share buttons, forward to a friend or any other direct to social icon to your emails – it enables the people that like your content to be able to share it with their networks. It’s ideal for list building too.
Don’t Forget The Kids
If you’re aiming at the youth market, bear in mind that their natural marketing habitat is more social media and mobile than email. They’re more willing to be marketed to through these channels than their older counterparts.
The doubters can doubt, but the figures and consumer mindset point to a very bright future for email marketing.
What’s your views? Do you think email marketing has a future? Let us know by leaving a comment below!
Author: Shannon Forbush
Sunday, 27 January 2013
Thursday, 24 January 2013
Are you looking to get started with social media marketing?
Do you want to reexamine how you’ve been using social networks?
In this post, I’ll cover 26 tips, an A-Z guide, to help you understand the backbone of successful social media strategies.
#1: Assess and Reassess
One way to assess whether to use one of the “big four” social networking sites as Samson Lov refers to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+, is by looking at the statistics—number of users on each network.
Statistical data is an interesting factor to look at while you decide where to build presences. However, keep in mind it’s one of many perspectives. Some social networking sites may make more sense for your business than others. We’ll discuss this further in Tip #19, Start Somewhere and Start Small.
#2: Build a Group of Followers
Austin Considine reveals the “worst-kept secret in the Twittersphere.” He writes:
“That friend who brags about having 1,000, even 100,000, Twitter followers may not have earned them through hard work and social networking; he may have simply bought them on the black market.”
Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither are social media followers. Companies should think of followers as something they’ve earned—the virtual pat on the back.
Where you lead, they will follow... Image source: iStockphoto.
#3: Curate Content
The question about original content vs. curated content can be a little confusing at times for businesses starting out on social media. Bottom line, you need to do both. A good rule of thumb is the 80-20 rule—use 80% others’ content and 20% your own.
Eric Savitz explains,
“As content marketing becomes increasingly central to the overall strategy, marketers look to content curation as a way to help cut through the clutter and provide their prospects with the valuable information for which they are looking.”
#4: Dedication for the Long Haul
The problem that many businesses run into is that they start using social media with lots of good intentions, like someone who has made a New Year’s resolution to exercise every day. They have great attendance at the gym in January, and by February are missing in action.
Develop a reasonable, doable plan and stick to it year-round.
Map out a social media plan and stick to it. Image source: iStockphoto.
#5: Elicit Responses
No one likes to be talked at without being given an opportunity to respond. If you have a blog, let your users communicate and respond to your posts via comments. Ask thought-provoking questions on your other social networking sites that people will genuinely want to respond to.
Ask questions on social networking sites.
#6: Follow Twitter Lists
There are many benefits when you create and follow Twitter lists. Crystal Vogt suggests:
“Twitter lists also allow you to find like-minded followers by perusing others’ lists.The Twitter list function can be an important tool for businesses.”
Twitter lists can provide a great resource for finding other profiles you may want to follow.
#7: Goals Shouldn’t be Hidden
David Meerman Scott writes in his book, The New Rules of Marketing & PR:
“When content effectively drives action, the next step of the sales process—an e-commerce company’s Products button, the B2B corporation’s White Paper Download form or a nonprofit’s Donate link—are easy to find.”
Make your products and services easy to find so users know how to take the next step.
Make calls to action visible and a key part of your social media goals. Image source: iStockphoto.
#8: Hometown Perspective
Sometimes it can be confusing to understand the difference between social networking sites. I love Jeffrey Hayzlett’s hometown analogy:
“Think of LinkedIn as a sign that you post on Main Street; Twitter, the view from your front porch as you wave when people go by; and Facebook as the den you use to invite special people to get to know you.”
#9: Industry Contacts + Clients = Users to Follow
Georgina Laidlaw offers a list of mistakes that might be strangling your success with social media and includes one major oversight that I’ve seen made repeatedly by businesses: Not following or friending industry contacts (and clients, too).
When you follow your contacts and clients, you’ll have an opportunity to read their news; see first-hand what content is important to their business; and comment, respond and further your dialogue.
#10: Join the Conversation
By now, the phrase “join the conversation” has been added to the ranks of social media clichés. If your company is able to assign a few people who can regularly represent and speak on behalf of the company via social media, you will find many rewards.
Speaking of conversation, businesses who claim a presence on social networking sites need to have a unique and recognizable voice. We’ll talk more about voice in Tip #24, Voice Lessons.
#11: Keyword Research
Caroline and Steve Melberg point out that keyword research is one of the most important parts of the SEO process, “yet few small business owners actually conduct a full and complete keyword research exercise before engaging on their first SEO campaign.”
Caroline and Steve consider keyword research to be essential to help businesses:
- Identify the best and most profitable keywords for their campaigns
- Find missed opportunities that may be profitable for their niche, and conversely, ones that should be scratched from their list
- Identify the focus and direction of their SEO campaign, and ultimately, the core of their online marketing strategy
Look for the best and most profitable keywords for your campaign. Image source: iStockphoto.
#12: Location, Location, Location
In one of our earlier 26 Tips articles on the topic of location-based marketing, we referenced Neil Patel’s 8 strategies for local search that provide excellent guidelines to launch local campaigns and are worth repeating here (followed by Tip #13, Market Your Business Locally, with additional thoughts about local listings).
- Keyword research to focus on industry-specific terms and geo-specific terms.
- Optimize your website for local search by adding locally optimized title tags and meta descriptions.
- Create a geo sitemap.
- Have the best Google Places listing possible.
- Build profiles on other sites to build citations for local SEO.
- Get local reviews when you add buttons to your website and encourage reviews.
- Build links from related local businesses and local bloggers.
- Optimize your social pages (Facebook Page, Twitter profile, LinkedIn page, Google+, etc.) for local.
#13: Market Your Business Locally
With the rise of smartphones, tablets and mobile devices, local marketing has become increasingly important for businesses. Sian Simon suggests factors that help to get good local listings:
- Create a profile within the search engines themselves.
- Get listed in local directories (e.g., Superpages, Citysearch), which give you a chance to be displayed more than once in the search engine’s results.
- Claim your business listing and create your profile—you can get started with Google, Yahoo! and Bing.
#14: Netiquette and Response Time
Tom Cull offers advice regarding business response time on social media:
“It could be a blog comment, a message through a form on your website or an email straight into your inbox; all potentially as good leads as each other. What the customer wants in each case is a prompt response, which addresses their inquiry and provides a next course of action. If it’s a personal blog, email or even social media, then people generally expect a response in 1-2 days.”
Are you responding within 1-2 days to inquiries that you receive via your social networking sites, blog or email? If not, how can you ramp up your response time?
Prompt response time is an essential part of social netiquette. Image source: iStockphoto.
#15: Objectives for Social Media Success
Forrester Research has analyzed hundreds of companies that have successful social media strategies. From their research, they’ve identified five primary objectives for success:
- Listening—Use social media tools to research and better understand your customers.
- Talking—Use social media to spread your brand and company goals.
- Energizing—Find your “unofficial” leaders and brand enthusiasts and use social media to supercharge the power of their ideas and word of mouth.
- Supporting—Set up social media tools to help your customers support each other.
- Embracing—Integrate your customers into the way you do business and give them an avenue to share product ideas and cost-saving tips. This is the most complex strategy; and one, when implemented well, can demonstrate the greatest ROI.
#16: Patience Is a Virtue for Social Media Marketers
Ilias Chelidonis reminds us,
“Anything that is worthwhile takes time to build, and growing tribes and followers on social networks and creating community takes time. One way to think of it is like building a house ‘one brick at a time.’ In the case of social media, it is one piece of content at a time.”
In Tip #14, we discussed the importance of responding to users’ inquiries within 1-2 days. But social media can also be unpredictable. A negative comment can set off a chain reaction, so you need to be quick on your feet to diffuse things before they get any worse.
Nicholas D’Angelo offers the following advice:
“As a brand, or especially as the social media manager of a brand, having negative comments or a ‘brand assassin,’ can have a drastic effect on the way your firm is perceived by others. As a brand you have to:
- Be the bigger person
- Seek resolution
- Try to help
- Do everything in your power to turn this ‘brand assassin’ to a ‘brand ambassador’ and take the higher road.”
#18: Round Robin Your Team’s Thoughts
Sometimes, even with all the best intentions, a company doesn’t instinctively understand the value that a social network can provide to their business.
Heather Clifford suggests looking to your internal teams for ideas.
“Why not host a social get-together with your team and discuss all the valuable aspects of your company? Do a round robin and allow each person on your team to give their thoughts… Harness the value that is right beneath your own roof. Possibility thinking along with group input is extremely valuable today.”
Confer with members of your team about company messages on social media and see what insights you gain.
Look to internal teams for product and service information that will strengthen brand awareness and customer loyalty. Image source: iStockphoto.
#19: Start Somewhere and Start Small
In Tip #1, Assess and Reassess, we discussed social platform decision-making in terms of the size of networks.
Mark Parker offers this piece of sound advice:
“The best place to start is to look at who you want to communicate with, define your typical customer and look at their familiarity with technology and where you are likely to find them.”
He also cautions to not “over-think the interaction… start somewhere, and start small.”
Whether it’s one of the “big four” or YouTube, Pinterest, Yelp or one of the other many sites, choose what’s most relevant for your business.
Start small. Image source: iStockphoto.
#20: Time Allocation
In the fall of 2012, VerticalResponse surveyed 462 businesses with fewer than 100 employees and found that 43% of small businesses are spending at least 6 hours per week on social media.
Finding social media content was reported as taking the most time, followed by learning and education, analyzing efforts, scoping out the competition and responding to questions.
How much time is your business spending on social media? What are the most time-consuming steps?
#21: Update Overload Can Be a Problem
eMarketer reported on a study conducted by SocialVibe that found “one-third of US Internet users who had ended a social connection with a brand did so because the company simply posted too many updates.” Communicate and educate. Don’t inundate.
#22: Voice Lessons
What does your business sound like on social media? Are you professional? Friendly? Friendly professional? Serious? Too serious?
Brad Smith recommends that businesses should have a unique voice and personality.
Does your business sound like someone people will want to talk to? Another way of looking at it—would you want to talk to you?
#23: Ways to Capture Different Kinds of Visitors
Darren Rowse suggests catering to two different kinds of blog readers: 1) the hard-won, single visitor and 2) the generic, viral visitor.
For hard-won, single visitors, Darren recommends capturing their attention with things such as:
- Link to further readings on the same topic
- Include signup forms/newsletter subscriptions
- Provide a contact form for questions they might want to ask
- Provide free download targeting their need
- Have active community of commenters or forum members
- Link to social media/RSS subscriptions
For generic, viral visitors, Darren recommends:
- Make comments on posts prominent
- Offer a free download or subscription related to the same content on the same page
- Follow up with the linking site to see if they’ll accept a guest post, so you can further build your profile with the site’s readers
- Offer the linking site an exclusive piece of quality content (e.g., a white paper or report that links back to your blog)
Hook your visitors. Image source: iStockphoto.
#24: (E)xplore the Social Media Ecosystem
Danielle Brigida compares the exploration of social media to finding your niche in the natural world—hiking a new trail, observing a stream or other surroundings.
Danielle suggests you use the same tactics for social media exploration:
- Ask/document questions
- Assess and analyze
#25: Yield Deeper Customer Relationships Via Social Networks
Chris Brogan writes:
“If you think of social networks as places where things other than your business happen, then you’re starting to get how this all works. People aren’t there to find you. They’re there for their own purposes. Your job is to have an outpost there and to listen, so that when someone expresses a need you can address, you’ll have the ability to start a relationship.”
Are you deepening your customer relationships with social media? What do you need to do differently to make it happen?
#26: Zero Cost of Entry, but Is Social Media Really Free?
Tom Johansmeyer points out that many of the costs associated with social media marketing are not immediately evident. Many of the platforms are free to join and set up a profile, but there are other things to consider:
- The primary issue is content: you need to be able to publish blog posts, tweets and status updates.
- You need to think about content promotion— i.e., getting people know about and read your content.
- There can be public-relations efforts, search engine optimization and community development and management required. This involves more people, more time and more expense.
- As with any marketing activity, measurement is necessary… Google Analytics, Facebook Insights and time with the likes of bit.ly and Topsy, though free, require someone to look at them, crunch the numbers and draw conclusions. Tom asks, “So, is social media marketing really free?” As he says, “Anyone who’s made a serious effort to do it knows that there are expenses all over the place. Don’t take this as a reason not to hit the social media world to market your company…”
Social media may have zero, or little, cost of entry, but there are definite costs. And as many businesses have discovered, it's well worth the investment! Image source: iStockphoto.
What resonates for you? If your business is getting started or refreshing your social media marketing efforts, what aspects do you need to focus on more intently? Leave your questions and comments in the box below.
Images from iStockPhoto.
Sunday, 20 January 2013
Came across this Interesting article on 10 of the Most Quickly Ditched New Year’s Resolutions.
Have you stuck to YOUR New Year Resolutions?
1-The “Turn My Life Around” Resolution
We’ve all known someone (perhaps it is you) that, at the dawn of the New Year, realizes their life is a tumbling pile of nothingness inhabited by fear, self-loathing and probably a lot of dirty laundry and unwashed dishes. The crushing weight of their failure seems too large to be lifted by a few paltry resolutions, so they resolve to simply overhaul their life. In their mind, the way to act out this goal is simply to act counter to their natural impulses, as these are the impulses that have led him or her to this point in the first place.
“I’m too lazy to do laundry” becomes “Nope, clean everything!”. “I should just keep my head down at work” becomes “I will demand a raise and possibly shit on my boss’s desk after hours!”. The way is so clear, so simple — why didn’t you think of this before?
Why You Will Ditch It:
Scientifically, the best and most successful resolutions are ones that are small and highly specific. This is both huge (“I’m going to change everything”) and incredibly vague (“All of…uhm…those things…”). It’s simply too huge to be attainable, assuming you can even define what “turn my life around” really means. Even for those who set specific goals for this life turn around (“I’m going to smoke less, drink less, spend more time with my family, work harder, keep things cleaner, etc…) is setting up too many goals to achieve, much less remember.
This is probably the most commonly heard resolution around New Year’s. Even relatively thin people wouldn’t mind losing an inch or two around the waist.
It’s an unfortunate consequence of a world where completely sane, heterosexual men have been heard saying they don’t think Christina Hendricks is attractive but would be all over Jennifer Aniston.
Why You Will Ditch It:
If you’re on the husky side of euphemisms for being fat, losing weight actually isn’t that difficult. It’s losing those last few pounds and keeping them off that’s the trouble. Long story short, when you start losing weight (which for most of human history was a terrible thing survival-wise), your body starts freaking out, and your hormones conspire to get that weight back. Not to mention the fact that you’ll likely have to overhaul your diet and start setting aside at least 3-4 hours a week to hit the gym. The point is, you’re not only combating your own laziness that tells you the gym is too much work and microwave dinners for 3 meals is totally okay, you’re battling millions of years of evolution. And you’re doing it with a New Year’s Resolution, which is second only to “The Weather” in the list of half-hearted conversation topics.
We all have vices that we pretend we’d like to drop but secretly wish we could keep doing for the rest of our lives without consequence. Smoking, along with rampant unprotected sex and black-out drinking, is one of these. Unfortunately, we are all mortal and so every New Year’s we have to pretend to our parents and friends that we’re totally going to quit smoking. Soon. I’m down to only 2-3 a day, really I’m like almost there.
Over the past few years, it’s even gotten harder and harder to be a smoker. Good luck finding anywhere inside to smoke, and if you live in certain areas of the country, good luck smoking at all. When asked if they smoke or how much they smoke, smokers are now required by law to say “Yeah, I really need to quit though it’s terrible.”
Why You Will Ditch It:
To paraphrase Mark Twain: it’s really easy to quit smoking — I’ve done it hundreds of times. If you’re trying to quit smoking, your odds of success are in the single digits. First off, smoking is so incredibly addictive, it’s kind of unbelievable. Nicotine as a drug leads to addiction in close to 70 to 90 percent of regular smokers. Compare that with alcohol, where only 2.7% of regular drinkers report a level of alcohol usage indicative of dependance. In addition, most smokers smoke compulsively: with coffee, with alcohol, after meals, before bed, right after waking up, etc… if you’re quitting smoking, odds are there aren’t many activities in your life that aren’t closely linked to having a cigarette in your hand.
A good smoking cessation plan takes weeks of preparation, and often entails involving friends, family, and support groups in your plan. Resolving to quit on New Year’s just because the calendar has changed a digit isn’t going to cut it.
4-Spend More Time With Friends and Family
Believe it or not, spending more time with those closest to you ranks as one of the more popular New Year’s Resolutions. Let’s pretend for a moment that we’re not all shriveled, misanthropic husks of cynicism and give this idea some credence. It’s a well-studied fact that people derive some of the deepest and longest-lasting joy in life from having a strong and supportive network of friends and family members. So it’s understandable that people who feel that these things are lacking in their lives would seek them out.
Why You Will Ditch It:
First off, this goal falls into the trap of so many resolutions in that it sounds simple and straight forward, but is actually maddeningly vague. How much time is enough? Is some time more valuable than other times? Is spending time playing catch with my son the equivalent of taking him to Disneyland? Should I spend more time with my family or my friends? A simple way to fix this would be to set aside some time every week to spend with friends and family, say sitting down to dinner every night and setting a weekly bowling date with buddies.
While nice, this doesn’t address the second, more serious reason why this resolution gets ditched: if you feel like you’re not spending enough time with your family and friends, there’s likely something else, good or bad, that keeps you from doing this. Maybe you’re a workaholic, in which case your resolution should focus on not devoting so much time to work (though that might be impossible if you want to keep your job). Maybe you’re estranged from your family because your parents were abusive and they engendered a lack of an ability to trust that has prevented you from forming meaningful relationships. In this case your resolution should be to see a therapist. Or maybe you’re just an insufferable asshole and few people can put up with you for extended periods of time. In this case your resolution should be to go into the financial industry so you can buy friends.
5-Get In Shape
The “lose weight” for people who aren’t fat or don’t want to admit that they’re fat, the “get in shape” resolution usually comes after a fit of wheezing and gulping breaths after climbing a flight of stairs. It’s usually followed by phrases such as “tone up”, “cardio”, “core strength training” and “protein shake”. This wonderfully meaningless phrase is basically a way for people who aren’t visibly out of shape to commiserate with those who are. It is the “oh my god I’m so fat” for people who aren’t women who watch too much TV.
Why You Will Ditch It:
For all the same reasons that it’s difficult to get your ass off the couch and lose weight, it’s difficult to get in shape. You won’t have the same sort of hormonal diet-rage as people who just dropped 30 pounds, but you still have to set an exercise regimen, and keep to it consistently for the rest of your life. Thick or thin, waking up at 5am to get a three mile run in before work while abstaining from harmful drugs sounds appealing to precisely no one and Mormons.
But the worst part, and the reason this resolution is probably dropped more quickly and frequently than losing weight is there’s nothing obviously wrong to begin with. If you’re a healthy weight, don’t smoke and drink in moderation, no one is going to give you shit about being unable to run three miles in less than 30 minutes. If you wake up every morning, look in the mirror and are able to honestly say “meh, good enough” all motivation to improve upon that goes out the window. Though to be fair, if you’re able to do that, your low-stress life will probably have you living longer than a marathoner.
6-Enjoy Life More
This is another resolution that shows up with remarkable frequency in polls of people’s goals for the year. When asked to elaborate, “take it easy” was the winner, showing up in 86% of replies. “Smell the roses” was a close second with 73% of replies with third place going to “You know, just live, maaaannnn”. When asked what specific activities ‘Enjoying Life More’ would entail, there were widespread reports of listening to the Grateful Dead and using this resolution as an excuse to drink more.
Why You Will Ditch It:
This resolution falls into the awful trifecta of New Year’s Resolutions: It’s vague, difficult to know when you’ve achieved and the result of so many factors that are nearly impossible to address all at once. How can you tell if you’re enjoying life more? Do you keep a daily chart of how often you’ve sniffed some angiosperms?
On top of all this, there’s usually a reason you feel like you’re not enjoying life and it likely doesn’t have much to do with how easy you take it or how often you take long, thoughtful walks through the woods and admire the foliage. Odds are if you don’t have much time to enjoy life, it’s because you’re committed to a career or something else that sucks your time. Losing that thing in order to “enjoy life” more thoroughly will likely be catastrophic for your finances and responsibilities. Similarly, if you’re not strapped for time but find yourself unable to enjoy life despite a lack of an obvious antagonizing factor, you should probably see a therapist as that’s a classic symptom of depression that isn’t going to be fixed by a simple resolve to feel better about life in some abstract sense.
7-Cut Back on/Quit Drinking
Almost everyone has been hungover at work or during classes, sometimes more than once a week. While this increases in frequency the younger you are, odds are just about everyone reading this now would like to cut back on drinking a bit, at the very least. Some of you reading this right now should probably quit drinking altogether. On top of the long-term damage it can do to your body in the form of increased cancer risks and liver scarring, most of us are just sick of the hazy feeling that comes from a night of even moderate drinking.
Why You Will Ditch It:
Alcohol will still be everywhere around you. You never quite realize until you try to quit or cut back just how many of your activities and friendships revolved around at least some drinking. Unless you spend a lot of time drinking alone, odds are most of your drinking isn’t a compulsive need, but simply a desperate attempt to make your friends more interesting. Even the most casual of drinkers is still surrounded by a world where every get together that takes place after 7pm and isn’t Bible Study usually involves a few rounds.
If you’re a heavy drinker and trying to cut back or quit, the story gets even scarier. Have a look at this list of symptoms for the condition known as Delirium Tremens. Long story short, a heavy drinker can expect some pretty severe withdrawal symptoms from insomnia, irregular heartbeat and motherfucking seizures. You don’t even have to be a heavy drinker, as these symptoms have shown up in patients who drank as little as 20 drinks a week (still a lot but well within a college student’s weekend).
So even if you muster the willpower to reign in your drinking, you are going to be surrounded by it for what is likely to be the rest of your life, assuming you don’t die from withdrawal. I give you until Valentine’s Day.
8-Get Out of Debt
In this hip, new second decade of the 21st century, many people are responding to the latest economic fashion trends and resolving to join those cool kids without any debt. Unsurprisingly, this resolution has become increasingly common in a world where millions of mortgages sit underwater and middle-class wages have stagnated.
As far as resolutions go, getting out of debt is mercifully specific and entails a definite end-goal which is theoretically feasible given the proper steps. On top of that, losing your debt is a great way to up your credit score, increase your long-term savings and earnings potentials and the sooner you do it the less money you’ll pay overall. Especially if your debt is on your credit card.
Why You Will Ditch It:
Unlike enjoying life, losing weight, spending time with friends and family and pretty much every other resolution, getting out of debt costs a hell of a lot of money. If you don’t have a lot of disposable income (and if you do, why are you in debt in the first place?), eliminating your debt is going to entail a lot of sacrifices. You have to make a budget and stick to it. Every day of every week of every year for what is going to likely be at least three to five years. And, much like drinking, all around you your friends will continue to buy nice things, eat out frequently and buy cars, houses, and wedding rings, whether they can afford them or not. And that entire time (again, especially if your debt is on credit cards) you will see your principle shrink by very tiny amounts as you pay off the astronomical interest.
Add to all this the sudden, unexpected expense that will inevitably arise and wipe out 6 months of good finances, and you’re likely to go back to making minimum payments before Martin Luther King Day.
9-Get More Sleep
As far as general things that you can do to improve your health, getting enough sleep comes in near the top of the list (assuming you’re keeping your resolution to quit smoking). And in this crazy, fast-paced world where we’re pressured to lose weight, enjoy life, spend more time with friends and family, and balance our checkbooks, sleep is often the only area we can afford to cut time out of. So come New Years, many people resolve to make sleep a priority in an effort to increase health and decrease stress.
Why You Will Ditch It:
When faced with two hours of sleep versus finishing a project that is due tomorrow, no one responsible will choose sleep. As detrimental as long-term sleep deprivation may be to your health, a little bit of grogginess is a small price to pay to get something important done. And good luck telling your boss/teacher/professor you didn’t finish the assignment because you are making sleep a priority this year. Getting that extra 40 winks is viewed as a sign of laziness and lack of ambition.
The big problem here for someone making this resolution isn’t that they aren’t getting enough sleep, it’s that they have too many other things going on in their life that are more important to them than sleep. The reason this resolution will get ditched almost immediately is it’s attacking the problem from the wrong angle. It’s like saying “I need to spend more time not smoking” instead of “I need to quit smoking”. It’s a semantic play that allows people to resolve to do something they think is important, without recognizing that they’ll likely have to give up something else that is important to them in order to achieve this goal.
10-Spend Less Time Doing (Wasteful Activity)
We all have our fair-share of time wasters. For some people, it’s watching a 4 hour long Mythbusters or General Hospital marathon. For others it’s playing video games, or looking at cat pictures on the internet. These activities don’t even have to interfere with work, school or other obligations (though they often do). Most of us still feel a twinge of guilt when we sit on our asses not accomplishing anything for several hours—we could have been painting, or learning a new skill, or reconnecting with old friends or…crocheting…or…ok I don’t honestly know what do people do outside of browsing the internet for funny pictures.
The point is, we all waste time, and we could be building a spaceship in our back yards (this is what I imagine I would have the time to do without video games).
Why You Will Ditch It:
You enjoy it too much, and there aren’t many negative consequences. Come on this is America, not some utopia of productivity and conscientiousness. If I want to sit on my couch for 6 hours and watch all three Star Wars movies back to back, not only will nobody dare criticize me, most people will join in and afterward we will say things like “That was awesome let’s do the Lord of the Rings next weekend!”.
You may feel like you’re wasting your life and not being productive enough, but the truth is Americans are the most overworked citizens in the developed world. Odds are you have already paid your dues during the work week, and even likely fielded several annoying calls on Saturday from your boss. You’ve likely paid your dues, and a part of you already knows it. This will probably be the quickest resolution to get ditched, simply because it doesn’t have a really good motivation behind it, unlike quitting smoking or getting in shape. Unless you’re an unemployed, lazy slob, you’re likely just being mean to yourself for no reason.
And so when the guilty part of your resolves to spend less time playing video games, the rest of your body screams “AW HELL NAW”, and sits your ass right back in front of that TV to participate in what is likely the most relaxing, gratifying and enjoyable thing you can easily do on a weekend..
Thursday, 17 January 2013
Sunday, 13 January 2013
Thankfully we all managed to divert the end of the world but regular problems are still on our plates. New tricks have now just got a year older and your target market is catching on to your new games. What tweaks need to be made for success with your social media strategy in 2013?
We decided to ask 8 social media experts what they think is going to be the most important things to focus on in the New Year when promoting your business online. Here’s what they came up with:
1. From ‘Me’ To ‘We’
Businesses will need to focus on other people to stand out. It is no longer about ‘me’ it is about ‘we’. The more you support and help others, the more your business, following and opportunities will grow.
If you start 2013 asking yourself, “How can I help others get to where they want to go faster?” or “How can I make this person’s life easier with my knowledge and expertise?” Instead of…”How can I increase my profits and bottom line in 2013?” You will find a complete shift in your client and customer’s engagement, create a magnetic attractiveness to you, your business and your expertise which will ultimately result in your compounding success in 2013.
Think ‘WE’ not ‘ME’ and you will do well.
– Pam Brossman, Founder of Social Media Woman Magazine
2. Content Is King But Context Is The Holy Grail
Listen, listen, listen. Stop pushing and start listening within social media. 2013 is the year that business owners will have to put on their big boy pants and have a dedicated social media strategy. It’s no longer a debatable option in your marketing mix. Social media is a cultural shift, not a marketing option.
Content will always be king but context is the Holy Grail. Paying attention to the interaction and engagement with your consumer so you build context for your marketing is the only way to truly succeed in 2013. Marketing campaigns are dead. Contextually marketing to your brand advocate is a home run.
2013 will be the breakout year for social media – meaning that even small business will finally allocate a budget to social, They will also work with service providers that were only servicing large businesses to help them excel in social media – app developers, community managers etc. If you’re not doing social media you won’t exist.
- Chris Dessi, CEO of Silverback Social
3. Have A Best Client Analysis
Business owners need to have a BEST CLIENT analysis in 2013. If their best client is a Fortune 1000 CEO, Facebook is not their best space. That analysis can then become a social strategy for what networks to be on and what to do once they get there. Without that, it’s likely that they’re dancing in the dark.
The most important component of any social media strategy in 2013 is to be fresh and provide VALUE. Without providing true value, nobody will click through.
Here’s the truth, 95% of your audience will not buy anything and that has nothing to do with you so give great content and support in whatever way you can. That builds your brand. The other 5% WILL work with you, and at really high levels, so what you give freely won’t impact those sales – THOSE sales are higher. Way higher.
- Mary Agnes Antonopoulos, CEO of Rockaway Writer
4. Add a CRM To Your Social Media Strategy
There is so much noise on social media these days. There are spammy tweets, yucky sales pitches on Facebook, as well an “investment opportunity” InMails on LinkedIn. But there is also really good noise – free webinars and amazing posts – and it all blends in together. So now more than ever, it’s important to have a really good CRM (customer relationship management) system in place.
Engaging and keeping up with key relationships has always been and will continue to be the most important thing a business persona can do! Find a customer relationship management tool that works for you. Whether it be ConnectedHQ.com, Salesforce, do.com, it doesn’t really matter. Just find one that works for you and use it to stay in touch with those key influencers, key clients and gateway people that can help you not only stay in business but also excel at it.
- Viveka Von Rosen, Author of LinkedIn Marketing: An Hour A Day
5. Get Visual & Connect With Influencers
Business owners should take a look at their branding and make sure how they represent themselves online is visually appealing. With sites like Pinterest and Instagram rising to the top of social media charts faster than any other, and Facebook putting images at the forefront of timelines, businesses will stand out if they incorporate appealing images consistently.
Using influencer marketing strategies is going to be the most effective direction for businesses to incorporate into their social media marketing. Every business must consider how to connect deeply with key market influencers and engage them.
- Laura Rubinstein, President TransformToday.com and SocialBuzzClub.com
6. Direct Engagement vs. Indirect Content
Business owners need to create more intimate and trustworthy relationships with their potential markets. Establish thought leadership and get inside the circle of trust. Achieve this through tools like LinkedIn networking and groups.
I believe businesses will move to direct engagement strategies vs. indirect content strategies in 2013. Social platforms will continue to push advertising as the method through which businesses can communicate to their market but this will continue to become more and more targeted and interactive between company and prospective client/customer.
- Nate Kievman, CEO of The Linked Strategies Group
7. What’s Your Strategy?
The most important component of every social media strategy in 2013 is to really have a well thought out strategy. Many businesses believe their strategy is to post once a day to Twitter and Facebook, but your strategy must be more comprehensive than this. If you want to have results with social media then you will need to determine the goals and objectives you’d like to achieve and ensure that you have a plan in place to achieve them.
Not every social network is for every business and you need to determine where you will get the best results. The biggest suggestion I have is to stop wasting time on things that aren’t working and come up with a plan to use social media that aligns with your businesses’ unique goals.
- Melonie Dodaro, Founder of Top Dog Social Media
8. The Real Currency of Social Media
Realize that it’s not about the numbers. Really realize it and make it a practice to build relationships–relationships are the new currency, they will propel your brand if you nurture them properly. Invest in the people, not the technology.
The most important component of every social media strategy in 2013 will be true conversation and making sure that your brand messages are based on what your customers want and need – not what you think is important.
- Kathryn Rose, Award winning author, speaker and social media strategist
How do you plan to supercharge your social media strategy in 2013? Let us know in the comments below!
author: Melonie Dodaro
Thursday, 10 January 2013
Let’s face it, it’s hard to always be politically correct, even for brands and big corporations who have people working overtime to keep their images untarnished and focused online. After all, in our highly connected, modern lives, even big corporations have human faces and make human mistakes. Add in social media and you have the potential to make some big social media mistakes!
Reputations, more than ever before, are flimsy within the online world today. For small businesses that may depend even more on word-of-mouth marketing for generating leads, it can be trickier to protect reputations. Social media can therefore seem like a minefield, but not if we learn from the mistakes of those who go before us.
Here are some lessons we could learn from some of the glaring faux pas of the past year by some of the biggest brands.
3 Social Media Mistakes To Avoid
1. Consider How You Market Your Product/Service
Hard selling is a marketing tool of the past. Web savvy buyers and social media browsers (i.e. your potential customers) can sniff out and see through convoluted marketing speak that companies use to promote their product or service. What customers want today is a credible brand they can trust, that offers products which add value to them. Not a hard sell!
You need to learn from those that make the mistakes, some to the point of gross insensitivity. Never make the marketing faux pas that KFC Thailand made in April 2012. The corporation made a shockingly “greasy” suggestion on its Facebook page that people should rush home to watch the earthquake situation unfolding while they munched on KFC orders that ‘will be delivered direct to your hands’. It sent off netizen demands for the pink slip to be handed out to the (ir)responsible individual.
2. Don’t #$@%ing Swear!
Of course, we all know that cursing online can make us appear irresponsible. This point should be obvious – no parent would like to buy textbooks, for example, from a brand that uses dirty words online or, as in the case of one particular auto giant, cars. Someone on the team that handles the Chrysler social media segment for the auto giant made the mistake of signing into the corporate account mistakenly, and posting a rant about the “f***ing’ driving skills of the #motorcity residents”. Another pink slip and an apology from Chrysler later, and we’d learnt an important lesson.
Be careful who you hire to handle your social media, if you don’t have the time to take care of it yourself. Don’t scrimp on the social media investment; you get what you pay for. While Chrysler may not have outsourced their social media, many do, and regret it. Outsourcing may be cheap, but there may not be the experience and commitment of better paid employees.
3. Plan Your Crowd-Sourcing Campaigns
Image by ‘Dave Pearson’
There were two campaigns by two brands in the past year that tried to get customers to talk about their respective products. And talk they did, but not in the way these brands had imagined.
#McDStories was a Twitter campaign launched by McDonald’s in January of 2012 in an attempt to bring together what the strategists imagined would be a Twitter feed party, full of warm stories of happy McDonald’s memories shared by cooing fans. Unfortunately, the plan misfired terribly. Within a couple of hours the #McDStories stream starting, it was filled with stories of fingernails in food and upset stomachs and the campaign had to be taken down.
Communications brand Rogers also tried a similar Twitter hashtag get-together which turned into a bashtag.
These campaigns only emphasize the minefield that social media presents. There were several problems with the campaigns themselves; in that they were utterly naïve and unfocused.
The lessons to be learned from this are many;
- Don’t be vague – ask people for feedback about something specific, such as a great offer that you have. No one will have terrible things to say about offers surely.
- Learn to differentiate between your fans and the rest of the world. Your best source of feedback is your fan base, not the rest of the world which probably had bad experiences or doesn’t care either way about your brand. If the fast food giant had launched the campaign among its Facebook fans, it would have seen a more successful ending.
- Finally, don’t let the volatile nature of social media scare you away – it’s not quite the white elephant. Use your social media tools well, learn to monitor effectively and you should be okay.
What social media mistakes have you made when promoting your business? What social media mistakes have you seen other companies make online? What other things do you think people should avoid doing when using social media for their business? Please let us know below by leaving a comment!
Author: Collins Paris
Sunday, 6 January 2013
Goals Setting exercise from the late Zig Ziglar. Another classic tribute vintage video from the late Zig Ziglar. The videos may be years old but the message is still very relevant today. Hope you will enjoy this.
Goals Setting exercise from the late Zig Ziglar. Another classic tribute vintage video from the late Zig Ziglar. The videos may be years old but the message is still very relevant today. Hope you will enjoy this.
Wednesday, 2 January 2013
Are you looking for creative ways to engage your Facebook fans?
Do you need some fresh ways to infuse fun into the Facebook experience?
This article will examine nine Facebook pages that bring excitement to their Facebook pages.
My hope is you’ll find inspiration for your own page.
NOTE: Many of these Facebook apps are developed by a third party and have a standard look and functionality. Other Facebook apps can be used to create a custom tab, but can have some limitations on how the tab looks.
#1: Seasons 52: “Mini Indulgence” Quiz
Seasons 52 is a restaurant chain with signature desserts called the “Mini Indulgence.” The restaurant has developed an interactive quiz that asks you questions to determine “which Mini Indulgence dessert is you?”
The reason this works is because it asks personal questions about things you like to do and “matches” those things with the type of dessert. Yes it’s kind of silly, but people love quizzes about themselves.
Key Takeaway: Create a quiz that is all about your customers.
#2: Grey Poupon Society of Good Taste
This is another interactive app that requires fans to “Apply” to be a member of Grey Poupon’s inner circle. You can like the Page freely (no one can restrict that beyond age or country) but this is a step above.
This app uses your personal profile information (where you have checked in, where you went to school, what pictures you’ve been tagged in) and creates a little movie that the judges use to “review” your qualifications and decide if you are in or out of their Society. The interesting thing is that many people aren’t immediately approved and they have to apply again.
But it’s so much fun to see what the reviewers say about your Facebook activity that it makes you come back again, hoping next time you’ll “cut the mustard.”
Key Takeaway: Create a fun way to use someone’s personal Facebook information.
#3: ABF U-Pack Moving: U-Pack-A-Cube
This Facebook app is an interactive game that requires you to pack the items coming off of a conveyor belt into the moving van. You get a score at the end based on how many things you packed and the difficulty of each item.
Key Takeaway: Create a fun game out of your product or service.
#4: Sierra Mist: Mixology
This app allows you to find drink recipes based on the occasion, ingredients or taste preferences. Fans can also submit their own recipes, which is a great way to get people involved.
Find some delicious drink recipes or submit your own.
Key Takeaway: Provide value based around your product and involve your audience.
#5: Dove: Dove Insider
This Facebook app is not that complex, but there are a number of reasons why it works well. First, the name itself is intriguing because people want to get the “inside” scoop. It also highlights a different fan each month with a quote about feeling beautiful.
You also get access to a coupon and a contest. A Facebook app does not have to be that complicated. Just make sure your app delivers value.
The Dove Insider includes a fan photo, coupon, contest and quiz.
Key Takeaway: Make your app about your fans.
#6: Ford Mustang: Customizer
The Customizer app allows fans to design their own Mustang from scratch. Then people can vote for designs they like and Ford even gives one of the designs away to a lucky winner each week. People get points for participating in the Customizer, which adds a gamification aspect to your marketing.
Customize your own Mustang and get points for participating.
Key Takeaway: Gamify your Facebook Page to keep people there.
#7: Gap: Pin to Win
Facebook contests are a great strategy to add life to your Facebook Page. What is great about this Pin to Win contest from the Gap is that it overlaps Facebook and Pinterest to give people a great way to browse merchandise on the Facebook Page and incorporates a Pinterest contest, which is so hot right now.
You can use the Facebook app to pin and thereby enter the contest on Pinterest.
Key Takeaways: Cross-promote your social platforms creatively.
#8: The Ellen DeGeneres Show: In Your Facebook
This is another simple app, but it is all about the fans. The Ellen DeGeneres Show is crowdsourcing their content to involve the audience in finding funny posts.
Ellen invites people to share funny posts.
Key Takeaway: Crowdsource your content.
#9: The Tooth Fairy Pillow: Find the Tooth Fairy
So far we’ve talked about large brands’ Facebook apps. Even if you are a smaller brand, you can get creative with your Facebook app. Think about what is going to be beneficial to your customer. The Tooth Fairy Pillow offers their fans something simple and easy to do, yet meaningful. The app itself doesn’t have to be overly complex.
Get a picture of the Tooth Fairy with your child in this simple app.
Key Takeaway: Make it meaningful.
Do you notice the trend in all of these apps? They are all designed to entertain, benefit or reward fans. That is what makes a good app. It’s not all about you; it’s about how you can help your fans. An app doesn’t have to be overly complex to achieve these goals.
How about you? Have you seen any interesting Facebook apps? Have your Facebook apps helped your business in some way? Let us know in the comments below!